- Farrow has promoted Anita Smojdnik to CEO from her current role as COO, Insider has learned.
- Farrow offers access to a network of remote financial professionals, including chief financial officers, certified public accountants and controllers.
- In September 2020, Smojdnik joined Farrow from Groupon International, where she served as President.
- Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.
A former Groupon executive has been invited to lead a start-up that aims to help companies outsource their financial and accounting needs through a network of experts.
Farrow announced the promotion of Anita Smodgenik as CEO on Monday, Insider has learned.
The Chicago-based fintech startup offers companies access to a network of remote financial professionals – including chief financial officers, certified public accountants and controllers – that provide accounting, bookkeeping and financial planning services.
The move comes just five months after Smogjanik was hired as Farrow’s vice president. She was previously president of Groupon International, a position she held for two years.
Michael Burdick, founder of Farrow, will move from CEO to Chief Strategy Officer focusing on special projects and will remain active on the company’s board of directors.
Farrow raised $ 16.5 million in funding, and recently closed out a $ 10 million Series A led by Sierra Ventures. Similar to the banking-as-a-service trend, the model of financing as a service grows as startups offer customers an opportunity to outsource back-office financing operations.
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Past experience in Groupon’s bilateral markets has taught Smojdnik the importance of developing a business-oriented data-driven template, she told Insider.
The experience that leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning is something she used when she joined Farrow. In her new role, it will continue to be a focus when Farrow works to develop the best way to connect clients with its experts, she added.
“I used AI resources and models derived from ML to distill Farrow’s operating model into just one algorithmic formula and understand where the growth leaders for the business are,” Smudgenik said.
Smojdnik Started as a consultant to Farrow
After seven years at Groupon – “A Century in Startup Life” – Smojdnik was looking for something new in 2020. She was looking for a company with “high growth potential and industrial design capability”, but Smojdnik said Faro did not. Did not catch her interest immediately.
However, after working alongside Burdick as a consultant starting in June 2020, Smojdnik examined an inside look at the company and quickly changed his mind about Farrow.
“I was amazed at the possibilities and what could be, especially in the context of what’s happening with COVID,” she said.
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From her point of view, Farrow is at the “perfect crossroads” of current trends – from disruption in traditional labor markets to accelerated adoption of remote work.
When Smojdnik started in September 2020 as Farrow’s Chief Operating Officer, her focus was not just on teaching the business and its people.
On taking over as CEO, Smudgenic said it would be based on key learning from President Gropon’s tenure and as Farrow’s COO: “Focus on your customers before anything else and make sure there is a proper value proposition for both parties in your network.”
Disrupts the ‘Big 4’
Farrow is actually a talent market, suitable for expert freelancers for clients seeking financing services.
For clients, Farrow provides a pool of freelancers equipped to solve complex problems at a fraction of the cost they see from competitors. For freelancers Peru seeks to “empower experts to build their own brands and business … to free them from the boundaries of regular work,” Smodgenik said.
Smojdnik calls freelancers on the platform “elite power” because Farrow gets only 2-3% of the candidates – many with experience from the Big 4 accounting and auditing firms or the Fortune 500 business, undergraduates and 15 years of work experience plus.
While Farrow’s ambition is to disrupt the Big 4, the company’s target is currently competing with five to 100 accounting firms.
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Farrow’s goal is to build a global business that allows people to work on their own terms that is well aligned with the trends accelerated by the plague. Smojdnik said Faro’s values ”resonate quite a bit in the current climate.”
While Faro’s heritage clients suffered from the same pains as many businesses in the run-up to the epidemic, adapting to work from home increased demand for Faro services.
“We’ve been growing pretty fast since I joined – the company has grown by 35% since September, and in the first quarter we look at 40% growth in the quarter,” Smudgenik said.
Anita aims to continue to conquer this spirit, focusing on the 2021 priorities in growth and scope. Next for Paro is an international expansion and the use of artificial intelligence to explore more new growth channels.
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